THOUGHTS ON FREE SPEECH

December 16, 2006

As you may recall, last month former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made a statement that raised a few eyebrows, saying that the first amendment to the Constitution may need to be reevaluated. Well, recently he “defended his call to limit freedom of speech to combat terrorism.” Good for him. So far as I can tell, the only people who can logically be opposed to curbing the speech of terrorists are the terrorists themselves.

Now, I guess one could say that if we don’t allow speech for those whose opinions we disagree with, then we don’t have free speech at all. And since freedom of expression is one of our most treasured American values, we’d be sacrificing part of what makes America great in order to protect America — but if the America we’re “protecting” no longer possesses the qualities which make it America, then we have, in effect, shot the horse to keep it from getting stolen.

Glenn Greenwald, who writes from Unclaimed Territory, said that “if you advocate the criminalization of ideas which you don’t like (or which you believe are “dangerous”), you really have no ground to object to efforts to do the same thing […] when applied to ideas that you do like…”

And Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would sacrifice freedom for temporary security deserve neither.”

But come on, we’re talking about terrorists who are trying to terrorize!

Now, of course, a liberal could point out that there are already laws that outlaw speech which incites immediate violence, so Gingrich must have been talking about some other kind of speech. In fact, he pretty much says he is. He says that suspected terrorists should be “subject to a totally different set of rules.” So, it’s not just the kind of speech he wants to limit, but who can speak. And who can’t? Suspected terrorists. And the problem liberals have with this is that, in their hyperbolic language, besides slicing away our free speech with a rusty machete, it completely eliminates due process, which the Bush administration is not a big fan of anyway, as it has claimed the right to simply disappear indefinitely anyone it suspects is a terrorists, such as Pulitzer winning photojournalists who take pictures it doesn’t like.

As is obvious, these liberal arguments are dangerous in part because they can be rather convincing to soft minds. Which is, of course, part of the reason we must support Gingrich in his reevaluation of the first amendment and free speech. And once we have erased free speech for suspected terrorists, we must label the entire liberal media as suspected terrorists…for their liberal arguments which would grant suspected terrorists free speech are knowingly enabling terrorism, which, I’m fairly certain, is illegal.

And then, well, then if someone has a problem with something I say, I can tell them to shut up about it, because I support my government, and their disagreeing with me is terroristic.

I can say, “Shut up!” while smirking my best Jack Bauer smirk. And when they say “Why?” I can say, “It’s the law.”

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AL GORE: BIG BABY

August 28, 2006

If he’s not traveling around, plugging his book and his movie on TV and in magazines, Al Gore is whining about the fact that the “person who has the most money to run the most ads usually wins.” I don’t disagree. It’s true. Something like 90% of the time, the candidate who spends the most money on his or her campaign wins. I just don’t get what the big deal is. That’s how oligarchical republics work! The candidate who can convince the most corporations to spend the most money on his or her campaign wins. But of course, Al Gore doesn’t like that. He would like it, one imagines, if people’s decisions were based on the substance of campaigns, and not on whose face showed up the most times in commercials on prime time. Well, give me a break.

The American people can’t be trusted to vote for the right candidate based on his or her politics.


THE MYERS GUIDE TO DEBATING LIBERALS (AND WINNING)

July 27, 2006

Recently there have been several calls from high-profile Republicans to bring back civility to political discourse — from Bill Frist to Newt Gingrich to George W. Bush himself. I think this is a grave mistake (and I almost never disagree with what our President says), and further, I don’t even think these guys mean it. I think their fingers were crossed behind their backs when they called for civility.

Being civil is no way to win a debate with a liberal; it brings you down to their level.

Now, in college, if you take debate, they have guidelines like these:

Contentions should be stated clearly at the onset of the debate.

Questions or challenges should not be personal or insulting.

Initial briefs are to be offered without clash or reference to the statement made by the other side. Clash and refutation occurs only in rebuttal.

In other words: State you case clearly, let your opponent state his case clearly, and don’t insult or threaten your opponent as a means of rebuttal.

Booooooring.

You have got to throw that junk out the window. It’s no way to win a debate. Rule number one in The Myers Guide to Debating Liberals (and Winning): physically intimidate your opponent. We on the right have a long history of physical intimidation. For instance, here is a partial transcript of a debate between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal in 1968 (Gore Vidal slyly uses rule number three in my guide, but I’ll get to that in a moment; right now we’re focusing on Buckley):

Vidal: As far as I’m concerned, the only pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of here is yourself.

Buckley: Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.

And here is a partial transcript from him debating Noam Chomsky:

Chomsky: Sometimes I lose my temper. Maybe not tonight.

Buckley: Maybe not tonight, because if you would I’d smash you in the goddamn face.

Man, is Buckley cool! So that’s a couple of historical examples. Let’s look at a more recent example to get a really good idea of how to do it.

Bill O’Reilly to Jeremy M. Glick: Get out, get out of my studio before I tear you to fucking pieces!

Okay. So that demonstrates rule number one. If you don’t like something some liberal said, threaten to smash them, sock them, or tear them to pieces. They will probably shut up (as liberals are wimpy and hate violence), and you win by default. Go team!

If that doesn’t work, you move on to rule number two: lie about your opponent. The great thing about spreading lies about your opponent is that their best response is, “That’s not true.” And you can say, “Your denial proves it. Nobody would ever admit to having such beliefs (or to doing such a terrible thing) in public!” For instance:

Ann Coulter: Liberals are always against America.

Tony Blankley: [The liberal media are] likely to do vast damage that may last for several years to the morale […] of our military.

See that? You say, “Liberals hate America,” and someone observing thinks, Gosh, I’m for America, so I must dislike liberals. And you’ve won that mind. You say, “The media are destroying America by telling the truth!” and someone observing thinks, Freakin’ media, I hate the truth! And you’ve won another mind. And that’s what debating is about. It’s about winning hearts and minds, not getting at the truth or anything silly like that.

Winning hearts and minds.

(Side note: If you have a problem with lying because you’re a Christian, as I do, at least in principle, feel free to think of it as “alternate truthing.” I can’t know for sure if Tony Blankley actually believes that the media have hurt the morale of the military by telling the truth, maybe he does, and if so he isn’t lying; and maybe Ann Coulter actually believes that liberals are always against America. But believing something doesn’t make it the truth — simply an “alternate truth.” If you can convince yourself to believe what you’re saying, even better.)

And finally, an extension of rule number two, rule number three, the last rule: drop a lot of hot-button words that will make an observer associate your opponent with something he doesn’t like. For instance, according to a recent poll, atheists are the least trusted group in America, even though there’s no evidence supporting a reason to distrust them, so you need to call all liberals atheists. No, it’s not true. Most conservatives and liberals are Christians in America, but that’s about as relevant as the fact that there’s nothing actually wrong with atheists. You use the words that work. Other words to use are Communist, socialist, Stalinist, godless, elite, intellectual, Hollywood, secular and treasonous.

There are others, but those should get you started. Have fun. Find your own hot-button words by trying out different ones and seeing what kind of reaction you get.

Okay, so there you go. The three rules to debating liberals:

1. Physically intimidate them.

2. Lie about them and their motives.

3. Use hot-button words to make observers associate your opponent with something they find distasteful.

Oh, I just remembered, one more rule:

4. Never be intimidated by facts — they’re the province of the godless intellectual elite!

(Did you see what I just did there? That’s what I like to call a “threefer.”)

Good luck!


TORTURE AND ABUSE IN IRAQ: A DEFENSE

July 25, 2006

A lefty magazine called MOTHER JONES has a brief article online (that you can find here), written by Julian Brookes, about a new Human Rights Watch — more like Human Left Watch — report which claims that “torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal.” Here is more from the HRW press release:

In the 53-page report, “No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq,” soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.

“Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk,” said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. “These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.”

I, for one, am sick and tired of all this concern about torture. I say you have to break a few eggs to make — scrambled eggs. And I think anyone who’s watched a season of 24 knows that as well as anybody, and I’ve watched four seasons.

The “ticking bomb” scenario demonstrates that, really, almost everyone would support torture in at least that one situation. If you don’t know, the “ticking bomb” scenario was pretty much what season four of 24 was all about.

Let’s say you are Agent Jack Bauer, and you receive reliable information that a nuclear weapon will detonate somewhere in America in the next three hours. You also have followed someone working closely with a terrorist organization to a house boat. He meets with someone there whose name is Pelosi. You and your men are spotted and Pelosi kills the man you followed there, claims he was an intruder on his house boat (but you know better). You take him back to CTU, Los Angeles and there his “Amnesty Global” lawyer is waiting, smarmy — of course — and all liberally superior.

“We do things according to the letter of the law,” he emotes haughtily.

You question Pelosi with his lawyer present, but he says he knows nothing, and his lawyer won’t let you so much as pinch his nipples. You have three hours to locate this nuclear weapon. Do you knowingly break the law and find a way to covertly torture Pelosi by tricking his lawyer into leaving — and then break first Pelosi’s thumb, then his index finger, then his middle finger, all the time making a really cool angry face and saying, “Where is it, Pelosi? I’ll get the information the easy way, or –” crack! — “the hard way.”

Of course you do. Maybe not personally — I’m a little squeamish myself — but you have it done. That’s my point.

Now, sure, some people have “logical” responses to such scenarios. At the Amnesty International website there is a piece on torture, and it quotes William J. Aceves as saying:

[The ticking bomb scenario] falls apart upon careful scrutiny. It assumes that law enforcement has the right person in custody. That is, the suspect knows where the bomb is and when it is scheduled to detonate. What if there is only a 50 percent chance that the suspect knows the information? What if this number is only 10 percent? Second, it assumes that torture will be effective in gaining access to the critical information. In fact, however, torture is notoriously unreliable. What if there is only a 60 percent chance that the suspect will reveal accurate information? How about 20 percent? How low are we willing to go? How should we make the decision whether to torture? How many people must be endangered before the torture option can be considered?

Well, I have the answers. Here we go. If there is a 20% chance that he knows where the bomb is and a 20% chance he will talk, then you may torture him for 40 minutes. 20 + 20 = 40. I think that’s some math that even the liberal Dumbocrats can put together. For the sake of the math, we ignore how many people’s lives are at stake, and assume it’s “greater than nine.” Fewer than nine people, and torture is never justified — unless the guy just really has it coming.

But, one might argue, torture is illegal. According to the same Amnesty site cited above use of torture “would violate countless international agreements the United States has signed and ratified, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture.” But I think everyone knows that America doesn’t have to abide by international law. We are Agent Jack Bauer and the world is CTU, unwittingly hindering us by trying to get us to follow the “law.” We are the rogue agent who knows what really must be done.

I think that pretty well takes care of all the arguments against torture.

To sum up: Yes, innocent people are likely tortured — and sometimes permanently maimed. Yes, torture is notoriously ineffective, and has repeatedly proved to make innocent people admit to crimes they were incapable of committing, and evidentially did not. Yes, torture is illegal.

But Agent Jack Bauer is just so cool that none of that matters — sometimes it’s just the right thing to do, despite what the evidence might suggest. Despite any moral qualms having to do with innocence or guilt or fair trials.

Gosh, I wish I could meet Jack Bauer.


BUSH & JOURNALISTS

July 21, 2006

Oh, boy.

So there’s this news magazine called IN THESE TIMES, which has crazy writer (and socialist!) Kurt Vonnegut as its celebrity editor. As you may know, Kurt Vonnegut is the author of the anti-war novel — who in their right mind is against war; it’s the bread and butter of the military-industrial complex — SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5. But this isn’t about Kurt Vonnegut. It’s about an article in IN THESE TIMES written by someone named Terry J. Allen. The article is called “Thank You, Mr. Bush” (and can be found here: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2738/).

One of the things the article claims is this:

When journalists expose government secrets and crimes, they are simply doing their jobs. They do not need to spill endless ink justifying that role in a democracy — especially when there is no evidence that the disclosures put anything at risk but the president’s poll numbers.

Well, I’ve got a slightly different view, as you might have guessed. There was this guy named Walter Lippman, who was a political commentator, who died in 1974, and he wrote a book all about journalism in democracy, and what he thought was that there were two ways to control the public. One way, see, was to control them with guns, which is what dictatorships do. The other way, was to control their thoughts, to “manufacture their consent” — and the way to do that is by controlling the media. (Now, maybe that’s a false dichotomy. No one has ever tried controlling the public, with, say, Twinkies, and who knows, it might work — but we’ll just pretend that Lippman’s is an accurate assessment and move on.) So, we’re obviously not a dictatorship (nobody’s perfect), we’re an oligarchical republic, and the way an oligarchical republic controls the public is with the media. The media tell people what they’re supposed to think. That’s the media’s job. Not what Terry J. Allen says it is, “expos[ing] government secrets and crimes.” Maybe in a pure democracy, Terry — but what the heck ever gave you the idea that America was intended to be a pure democracy? We were founded by a bunch of Christian land and slave owners who didn’t allow women or people of color to vote.

I mean, come on, Terry! You think the media work for the public? They know who butters their bread. They don’t make their money from subscriptions, for God’s sake. They’re just big corporations that make their money from the advertising monies other big corporations pay them. The media are simply a conduit: they sell people — their readership — to other big corporations. They don’t break news. They tell people what to think. And more, that’s what they’re supposed to do.

Otherwise you get a bunch of people questioning the oligarchical power structure — and that’s the mess we have now. Sure, it’s just scratching the surface. Sure — reporters are still relatively lousy as a whole, but I’m gonna be the canary in the coal mine that is America, and I’m point it out now — while there’s still a chance to right things.

A bunch of media outlets have failed in their responsibility to properly control their journalists, and they are writing truths — and ugly truths — and the public is finding out about them — about crimes, and lies about crimes.

It’s depressing.

We have journalists beginning to act like their job is uncover “secrets and crimes,” as Terry J. Allen says, and that is a shame. That is no way to control the public mind — and I for one am ashamed of these people. Bush knows what he’s doing. That’s why the oligarchy put him in charge of their government. And now they’re undermining themselves by allowing their journalists off their leashes.

It’s time for them to put their collective foot down. Or start dropping Twinkies from helicopters.